Business

Flipkart: 2007-2018; Sachin Bansal out, Binny Bansal not out

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. Sachin and Binny Bansal were not looking for it. Success would just be a by-product or a by-the-way thing for them

OPINIONMAKERS@The Hush Post: One should dream audacious goals. Though, overtly one might as well want to hide them. Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, belong to the city of the retired – Chandigarh. If anything, the air of Chandigarh develops in you a sense of complacency, not audacity.

To put things into perspective both were born in the year 1981, a year before the ninth Asian Games were held at New Delhi. It was a time when India’s capital Delhi, many say, was like one huge village, when people rode buses. Even Maruti wasn’t born.

Sachin and Binny Bansal playing chess during happier times.

Sachin and Binny Bansal playing chess during happier times.

Both Binny and Sachin Bansal went to St Anne’s High School – not boasted of much in terms of status quotient, which is mostly of value at parties or indirectly to let the other person know the status of one self through the school one’s child attends.

From being most famous Bansals to being the Sachins of business

 Both cracked the prestigious IIT, a sure gateway to knowledge and success. Both the Bansals’ are engineers. Probably, the most famous Bansal before the Sachin-Binny duo arrived at the scene was the Chandigarh MP and former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. In terms of business, may be the Bansal Coaching Centre of Kota hogged the lime light of fame. This was around 2006.

Then these two men – Binny and Sachin quietly set up an online bookstore at Bengaluru. They named it Flipkart. The most famous Binny from Bengaluru, then Bangalore until 2007 and beyond was Roger Binny, the Indian cricket player and a member of 1983 World Cup winning team until Binny Bansal became a name after a silent, unseen battle of blood, sweat and toil.

Whoever had the name Sachin had to live in the shadows of another man called Sachin Tendulkar. It wasn’t a name to be remembered.

There is a quote in English, “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” The Bansal duo were not looking for success. Bansals are traders by profession, if at all a Bansal would look for, is money. Success would just be a by-product or a by-the- way thing for them.

Amazon to Bookstore

After completing IIT, and leaving aside the mention of sundry jobs as software engineers, they joined Amazon, the company which almost came down on their knees more recently to marry Flipkart.

When they quit Amazon, the duo initially wanted to start a comparison search engine. But they found that the market for e-commerce was small in India. Hence, after leaving Amazon in 2007, they founded Flipkart as an e-commerce company. They would ride scooters to personally deliver books much like pizza boys, the only difference being the owners themselves were the delivery boys.

Acquisitions by Sachin Bansal& Binny Bansal:

By October-November 2011, Flipkart acquired the website Mime360.com and with it, rights to digitally catalogue Chakpak.com. A sundry more acquisitions, and then came the big billion sale 1 and 2 and then more acquisitions:

  • In 2015 Flipkart acquired a mobile marketing start-up Appiterate.
  • In 2016: Flipkart’s Myntra acquired rival fashion shopping site Jabong for $70 million.
  • In 2016: In April, Flipkart acquired payment start-up PhonePe.
  • In 2017: In April, in exchange for an equity stake in Flipkart, eBay agreed to make a $500 million cash investment in and sell its eBay.in business to Flipkart.

The two Bansals had arrived but they didn’t have the time to celebrate or look down to where they began from. Probably, money always doesn’t guarantee recognition or success. It was still the time when a certain newspaper’s  Editor-in-Chief, who himself came from a trader’s community –Shekhar Gupta – and who interviewed successful people for a TV show was more successful and recognised than the two Bansals. But then In April 2016, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal made it to Time Magazines’ list of The 100 Most Influential People. And heads of who’s who of the world turned.

They were synonymous with business –Binny and Sachin had become the Sachin Tendulkars of business.

Crocodile eats crocodile

If these two were on the Times Magazine list, they wouldn’t have escaped the eyes of bigger daddies in business.

Walmart is an econmy bigger than many countries. And this behemoth found its business prospects restricted due to Indian government’s policies. They were wriggling at the bottom. And then started their flirting or even stalking the Flipkart. For full 20 months. They used the age old theory of Arthshastra by Chanakya – saam, daam, dand, bhed, and broke the jugalbandi or partnership of Binny and Sachin. And now they are ready to set the tone of the Indian market. Many are bothered about the war between the two behemoths Walmart and Amazon. But an important question is what happens to smaller players and other bigger players like Reliance.

Flipkart is currently valued at 22 billion dollars, with 77 per cent stakes belonging to Walmart.

‘Naam gum jaayega, chehra ye badal jaayega’

For the partnership of software engineers Sachin and Binny, who learned to pack, cart, and flip the books, has been broken. To use the cricketing terms in business: Sachin out (Rs 6,700 crore) Binny not out (at double the amount). Or as the famous Bollywood number of yesteryears from the movie Kinara goes: “Naam gum jaayega, chera ye badal jaayega.”

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